I don’t know if it is because I am a women, or a mom, or an aquarian, or a human……but I am sensitive to and saddened by the amount of suffering I see going on in the world. Others, and my own.
Anyone that has ever gotten to the point that they really start to question the sense of it all, has had to question the source of all of this suffering. Spiritual teachings like Buddhism are based on that precise inquiry.
And so here I am. I have no Phd in philosophy, but I have read books and studied and I know they all say that if we can find a way to let go of our attachment to things, we can end the suffering.
I always find that those words, written and taught , don’t mean much to me until I can experience what in the world they are talking about, directly in my own life.
I have and have had circumstances in my life which have caused me to suffer.
Sometimes the voice in my head tells me to “Shut up and stop whining, you have it better than so many people in the world….what are you complaining about?” And yet, that doesn’t make the hurt go away.
Sometimes the voice in my head wants to blame other people and circumstances as the cause of my suffering.
“If he would just be understanding……” “If they would just do the job they said they would do………” “If the government had a clue…….” “If the school system was better….” “If someone would just help me…..” And yet, that doesn’t make it go away either.
And then most of the time, the voice in my head has really sweet things to say to me, such as, “If you would have worked harder….” or “If you would have just thought that through….” or “If you would have just listened to your gut….” A litany, but in general…”If you were better, things would have worked out.” And that most certainly doesn’t make the hurt go away.
And then I realized what all of those really smart thinkers meant when they said, “Let go of the attachment.” The attachment we have, is that we are attached and very invested in things going the way WE want them to go. And we get very upset and suffer when they don’t. When I think about it, I can’t find one example in my own life where my suffering was not a function of being sad, mad, or upset about things not going the way I wanted them to go. Heck, I even suffer when things don’t go the way my loved ones want things to go!
But how do we let go of those things we want? Aren’t we supposed to want things and strive for things? Aren’t we supposed to create goals and plans?
Those seem to be the 20 eon dollar questions. (Eon= one billion, my 2nd graders vocab word this week!)
What I have discovered is this: I am not going to give up on what I really want. But what I really want doesn’t have much to do with all of the circumstances I suffer about. What I really want is to feel and experience love and joy and happiness. What I really want is for others to experience love and joy and happiness.
And honestly, who I am to say which circumstances are going to get me there…..where I really want to go.
My dad almost died of a brain injury. When he was in a coma, my family suffered. But now he is fine, and our family is more loving, more honest and more grateful than ever. I lost my house due to a multitude of circumstances, but I found my new apartment, my “commune” and a home life I could have never dreamed possible. I got divorced, but my baby daddy and I have an extraordinary, loving relationship where our kids get to experience more things, more adventures and move love.
So, maybe it is simply letting go of what we think is the RIGHT way for things to be. Maybe we start believing in a divine plan. Maybe we start living life as a game, where foul balls and strike outs are just part of the game. Maybe instead of spending time being angry and sad about things not going the way we planned, we start looking at how this might be useful in fulfilling on the life we really want.
Maybe we just choose to be happy.